Govt demanded Apple soften political impact of iPhone hack warnings: Report | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Govt demanded Apple soften political impact of iPhone hack warnings: Report

Dec 28, 2023 08:00 AM IST

Government officials in India pressured Apple to soften its message about potential hacking attempts on iPhones, according to the Washington Post report.

Apple’s warning to several Opposition leaders and journalists about potential hacking attempt on their iPhone by ‘state-sponsored attackers’ prompted the Narendra Modi government to quickly demand the US firm soften its message, the Washington Post reported.

Apple has previously said it did not attribute the threat notifications to "any specific state-sponsored attacker".(Reuters)
Apple has previously said it did not attribute the threat notifications to "any specific state-sponsored attacker".(Reuters)

Government officials reportedly exerted pressure on Apple to downplay the political impact of the warnings, the newspaper said citing three unidentified sources. They even summoned an Apple security expert to a meeting in New Delhi, urging them to provide alternative explanations for the warnings to the users, according to the report.

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“The visiting Apple official stood by the company’s warnings. But the intensity of the Indian government effort to discredit and strong-arm Apple disturbed executives at the company’s headquarters,” the report claimed.

On October 31, a number of leaders from the Opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) and some journalists claimed that they had received emails from Apple warning them that state-sponsored attackers were potentially remotely trying to compromise the iPhones associated with their IDs.

Some of them shared screenshots on social media of a notification quoting the iPhone maker as saying: "Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID".

Apple said it does not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker. “State-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time. Detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete,” it said in a statement.

While Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw expressed concern over the threat notifications from Apple Inc., he dismissed the Opposition’s claims that the government had engaged in attempts to compromise their phones.

“The government is concerned about this issue and it will get to the bottom of it. We have already ordered investigation into it,” Vaishnaw told a press conference.

In a series of social media posts, Vaishnaw later said that "much of information by Apple on this issue seems vague and non-specific in nature."

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